Monday, October 24, 2016
The Swords Of Ditko!
One name that doesn't necessarily come to mind when you mention Sword and Sorcery is Steve Ditko. But it should. Along with writer Archie Goodwin, Ditko created some potent early comics S&S tales for the pages of both Creepy and Eerie magazines.
The first from Creepy fourteen was titled "Where Sorcery Lives" and presents a hero of sorts named Garth who must battle a pretty strange looking wizard by the name of Salamand. To save a pretty damsel he uses his brawn and his wits to wind the day.
This story was the cover feature with beautiful artwork by Gray Morrow which seems not to have much to do with the actual story.
Next we have one from Eerie eight called "Demon Sword". This one is set in the modern day but deals with a series of mysterious murders which cause our hero to find out that the cause is an ancient sword and only sorcery can solve the problem.
This story too rates a cover, one of the most famous published by Warren by the late great Frank Frazetta. I think the title of this one is "The Brain".
Back in the pages of Creepy fifteen we get "City of Doom" starring a hero named Thane who is left to die by his supposed allies but then gets free and finds a girl who takes him to a deadly city which makes the vultures seen above to meager threats indeed. There is of course more to the girl and the city than at first meets the eye.
No cover mention this time, but another iconic Frazetta cover nonetheless.
And finally we have "Warrior of Death" from the tenth issue of Eerie and here we find our protagonist named Zahran who is a powerful warrior and makes a bargain with Death itself to deliver fresh product as long as he lives, which proves to be a very long time indeed. Eventually he learns the deal had a few caveats he was unaware of.
Gray Morrow supplies a cover for this one which actually seems to relate pretty well to the contents of this Goodwin/Ditko classic yarn.
Steve Ditko went on to work in the sword and sorcery category a few more times, most notably perhaps his four-issue tenure on Stalker which was part of DC's short-lived adventure line-up. Under some handsome Wally Wood inks this was a good looking comic, but at that stage of his career Ditko seemed to have lost just a jot of the potent magic evident in these earlier Warren masterpieces.